A copy of the Muslim holy book translated into te reo Māori – the Koran, or Kur’anu Tapu – has been gifted to Cambridge by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The book was presented to Waipā District councillor Philip Coles by Waikato Imam and Discover Islam New Zealand chief executive, Sabah Al-Zafar. He was accompanied by fellow members of the Hamilton chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, colleagues who have for the past few years assisted in the Discover Islam NZ roadshow, alongside the True Islam campaign. The focus of both campaigns has been to inform New Zealand communities about the Islamic religion and Muslim life.
Al-Zafar said the intent has been to “eradicate extremism and negative sentiment” about Islam.
“Our motto is ‘Love for all, hatred for none’. The majority of New Zealanders we meet during these campaigns are extremely kind and appreciative of what we are doing,” he said. “Where we have come across hostility, and there has been very little, we know it is through misunderstanding and respond with compassion. We are trying to build bridges… to spread love.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is an international religious organisation with branches around the world and many millions of members. It was established in New Zealand in 1987.
The community in New Zealand started working on translating the Koran some 20 years ago. The holy book is considered the most precious thing to Muslims, and it was believed that by translating it into te reo, it demonstrated the Muslims’ respect for the Māori community and helped share something particularly meaningful with New Zealand.
The work was done by the late Pakistani-born physicist Shakil Ahmad Monir who worked extensively with Māori language experts.
Coles said an earlier presentation of the book had been made to Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest and Pirongia ward councillor, Clare St Pierre, representing that side of the district. A copy has also been placed in Cambridge Library.
“It is a privilege to receive a copy here on behalf of the council and the Cambridge community,” he said. “I will take it to council and work out where we are going to display it.”